Anyone that knows me knows, I'm a died in the wool Linux fan. I use Windows as a tool to accomplish a task. That is, if I *need* to run a Windows application, that I can't do any other way, I use Windows.
Someone was nice enough to donate a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate to me to try out. I had been using XP Professional for my Windows work. I tried, and didn't like Vista. I've retried it several times over, and have been annoyed with it when it does stupid things. I tried a few beta's, and worked with it in normal releases on others computers.
I had low expectations for Windows 7. I expected a freshly skinned Vista.
The hardware I'm working on is a AMD AM3 Athlon II x4 620 (2.6Ghz) overclocked to 3Ghz. Asus motherboard, with integrated ATI Radeon HD 3300, and 2Gb of DDR3 RAM. 512Mb is shared to the video card, which I will be fixing sometime soon. This Asus board was the only one that took DDR3 that CompUSA had in stock at the local store. I figured it's easier to stay with this video card for now, and upgrade it later. I also plan the same for the CPU. I'll be purchasing an actual Phenom II x4, as the pricing comes down. I did a little reading, and this CPU overclocked does as well or better than it's Phenom II x4 sister. Hey, can't argue with that, especially with the lowest price tag in the store.
I have Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit in it's own partition. I can say, "well, it's not too bad." It's doesn't seem as resource hungry as Vista.
The only things I've noticed are that there are no Vista nor 64-bit drivers for my old Linksys WUSB11. The fault there is with Linksys not making new drivers for their legacy hardware, not Microsoft It does manage my Belkin USB device well though. Well, it handles it better than XP did. I had intermittent service with it, and attributed that to the device. It works well with the 64-bit Vista drivers. The drivers don't just install themselves, like they're suppose to, so it takes a little loving to make it work. Not a big deal though, everything else went in fluidly.
I've noticed that Win7 automatically schedules a defrag for 1am weekly. Nice touch. I changed the schedule to daily, and the time to later, when I'm less likely to be using the machine.
Would I avoid a 64 bit version of Linux for Win7 64-bit? No.
I noticed something funny. They keep two separate trees for x86(32) and x86(64) program files. Under Linux, with the proper libraries installed, this is unnecessary. I don't know the purpose of this. Maybe it's for organization. Maybe it's because it pays attention to the path. Maybe it just likes it that way. Either way, it seems odd.
On a 64bit Linux (Slamd64 and now Slackware 64), I've always had almost everything compiled for 64 bit. The only glaring exception was Firefox, because there was no 64bit flash plugin. Since that was resolved months ago, I've used 64bit everything. I have run 32 bit applications, because I was testing something from a 32 bit machine. No big deal there, it just worked.
For folks that like Windows (like most average home users), I won't scare them away from Win7 as an upgrade path. I warned people off of Vista, because I always ran into problems. It seems like they've done something mostly right this time.
I just did another Win7 install on an older Athlon64 machine (3000+, 1Gb RAM), and performance wise it seems slightly better than XP.
As a note, these measurements are "seat of the pants" measurements. They were not quantified with any benchmarks. Really, end users care about how good it feels, even if the benchmarks prove otherwise.